Have you ever walked through your parents’ home and taken the time to truly realize all of the belongings they have? How many times have you shuddered at your mom, dad, or relative saying the words, “and one day this too will belong to you”? Whether you are thinking of a china set, dated clothing, decorations, a doll collection or bulk pieces of furniture, just because it holds intrinsic value to you it does not mean that someone else will hold the same value for it!
While of course there will be items that family members cannot wait to inherit from their loved ones one day in order to hold them close to their heart in remembrance, new generations all in all are transforming into a more minimalist society. As we ebb and flow across many trends throughout time, generational spending habits can also be accounted for. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the “Silent Generation” (1929-1945) spent less than $20,000 (cost gaps accounted for) on housing and very little on entertainment, eating out, clothing, and other spending- however they did spend more on food at home. Meanwhile, the “Baby Boomer Generation” (1946 to 1964) were and are the CEO’s and strong foundations of the big United States business boom. While business was thriving in the 1980s-2000’s they lived in excess, spent much more on housing, and notoriously spent a frivolous amount on “extras” defined as vacation homes, toys, cars, clothing, eating out, and more. This generation and the overflow onto “Generation X” (1965-1980) defined their value by what they had and where they lived therefore coining their generation as a true consumer generation.
Due to the amazing economy that the Baby Boomer generation peaked in, they were granted the novelty of a higher disposable income and, to this day four out of five retailers will continue to attribute 50% of their sales to Baby Boomers. This has led to the accruing of more household items which in turn has led Baby Boomers to lead a much more stationary lifestyle- collecting items in order to create the white picket fence beautiful home life for their family. Meanwhile, as the “Millennial Generation” (1981 to now) currently reach their prime entering workforce for the first time during a recession and economic turmoil, they are spending much less- getting married later, having children later, and valuing experiences and advancement in the workforce more than ever. The Millennial Generation has more of a “flight mentality” or a minimalist desire to not own much so that if they needed to tomorrow they would be able to pack up their belongings and move somewhere new for an opportunity. This generation has also notoriously been nicknamed the “Ikea” or “Target” generations- meaning that efficiency is valued over the emotional connection to household items. They place their priorities in experiences like traveling the world before settling down, saving up money for festivals and events, and holding animosity towards desk jobs behind a computer. Therefore, you can begin to see the divide and lack of desire for the objects that their parents and grandparents worked hard for, instead the Millennial Generation is more focused on creating memories and achieving “worldly” knowledge rather than purchasing their first home. Some would prefer a family scrapbook or memorabilia over a grandfather clock.
The bottom line here is, do not be disappointed if a relative turns down your willed belongings- for the first time in history, two generations are downsizing simultaneously and a great alternative might be an antique shop or thrift store where someone may be looking for that item exactly! It is a different world where generations are living longer and if a 90-year-old parent wants to pass things down, or passes away, their children might be 50-70 and at the age where they are downsizing too!
It is much better to have a conversation about what may be passed down and what will not be so that your loved ones are not left with the stress and emotion of dealing with your belongings alone one day. One fantastic opportunity to bond with your loved one is going through their belongings together and collecting the stories of their “stuff”. This will help you decide what to hold onto and why they were so important to that individual- shedding more intrinsic value on the items. For the things you are unsure on or the nicer items you would like to sell, a storage unit is an ideal fix until you get your bearings on the best new home for the item. It can also help to do online searches on whether there is a market for your loved ones art, furniture, china, etc. Have the conversation with your loved one today!
Written By: Lauren Gronna, Advertising Coordinator